When the flight attendant announced that the youngest certified yoga teacher in the US, Tabay Atkins, was on my flight, being a yoga teacher myself, I had to meet him! The 11-year old yogi had been in Maui for a radio show and brought his Grandfather, Dad and his Mom along to celebrate Father’s Day. Tabay is years from driving a car, yet he leads packed yoga classes with confidence and poise. He is a highly sought out yoga teacher and has appeared on CNN, ABC, Good Morning America, to name a few. To top it off, Tabay’s classes are donation based with proceeds going to charities supporting children with cancer. Incredible! The world needs more kids like Tabay Atkins. Read my interview below…
“I think yoga will help make the world a better place. Not just the physical part, but every part of it.” – Tabay Atkins
Hi Tabay! How did your yoga journey begin:
When I was 6 years-old, my mom had Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. She had to do really intense chemo, which broke her body and spirit down so much. After chemo, she couldn’t even walk on her own. She became very weak and was sad and scared. My mom had never done yoga before in her life. She was like many people I have met that had a not so great image about what yoga was, so she never tried it.
A friend of hers at the time wanted her to meet a lady (who happened to be a yoga teacher), that had a mom who died from cancer and a sister who was going through it (she too passed away later), and thought because of her family history and experience with cancer that she would have been a good support for my mom. It was intimidating for my mom. In just 2 months I saw her slowly becoming her happy healthy self again. She was able to walk again on her own. She was able to sit in half lotus… She was smiling again. And she just got so strong and so positive. Yoga really helped heal my mom!!! Not just physically but emotionally, too!! She was actually even MORE positive and relaxed than before she had cancer. Things weren’t stressing her out anymore or bothering her anymore.
I knew that moment that I wanted to become a teacher so that I could help heal people through yoga the way I saw yoga help heal my mom. I thought, “Wow, there are so many people in the world that are sick, or sad, or stressed, and have no idea about yoga and all the endless benefits of yoga (just like my mom didn’t know), and if I could teach people or share my mom’s story with them, then they will try it out and become believers and heal, too!!!”
And here I am!
Who inspires you:
My mom has been my biggest inspiration. She is the most selfless, kindest, loving, caring, and nurturing person in the world. Since she opened up CARE4YOGA Studio, anyone that has had cancer or has cancer, are always free-she never charges them. And if there is a student or family that really needs and wants yoga in their lives but can’t afford it, she pays for them or doesn’t charge them or lets them pay whatever they can. I want to be just like her. She always says that I’m the best nicest selfless person in the world, and I tell her that I must get it from her! She is my hero! She is my best friend! She is very special and I love her so much.
What is your current mantra:
I have a few mantras I love:
1 // May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be free of worry, may I have peace.
2 // I am grateful for all that is unfolding in my life and all that is yet to come.
3 // I’m only going to say what I want to put into the universe.
What is your greatest challenge so far as a yoga teacher?
Keeping up with all the emails, messages, and appearance requests. I have over 102,000 emails and messages from people all around the world. I am really grateful and this is what I want to do-I want to reach people and inspire people and teach all over the world, but it’s just been my mom and a bit overwhelming and hard to keep up with it all, but we are trying.
What is a normal day like in your life?
I wake up and meditate for 10 minutes before I get out of bed. That helps me have a great day! I eat breakfast, build legos, organize and look at my coin/old money collection, go to our studio and teach and help my mom teach (depending on who’s class it is), practice yoga for myself, cook/bake with my mom (one of my favorite things to do with her), and my very favorite thing to do is snuggle with my mom!
Other times, if it’s a busy week of media stuff, I am traveling, doing photoshoots, and radio/tv show interviews, and being hosted to teach at different places.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to build Legos. I collect old and rare coins and dollars. I love to cook and bake. I love to do acro yoga with my mom. I love to travel. I love to skateboard. And I love to go to the pool.
What advice do you tell a new yoga student?
Sometimes people say that they’re not flexible enough for yoga and I tell them that’s like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.
What is on your bookshelf these days?
When you see yourself projected five years from now, what does that look like?
I will be 17 years old WOW!!! I hope to write a book with my mom about our journey and yoga. I want to continue to teach yoga all over the world. And work with Oprah (that would be a dream and a half for me)!!! I love what she stands for. I use her quotes so often. And one of my dreams of working with Deepak is already in the works. I never wanted to be an actor before, but now that I have been in front of the camera, I think it’s something I can maybe try out. If it will mean that I will be able to share my love and knowledge about yoga and all the benefits it has, I will do it. Most of all, I want to be celebrating my mom being 10 years cancer free!!!!
What are your favorite yoga tunes?
Long Time Sun – Snatam Kaur
Ra Ma Da Sa – Snatam Kaur
Yoga Groove Soul Food Album – Brent Lewis
DJ Yogi Guru Grooves
You are doing a lot of traveling these days, what do you always bring with you?
My “Tabay” Yoga Mat, laptop, legos, snacks, a book, and sometimes if my mom lets me, I bring coins.
Do you have a favorite quote(s) that you live by?
“Don’t worry about being successful but work toward being significant and the success will naturally follow.” – Oprah Winfrey
“No experience is wasted. Everything in life is happening to grow you up, fill you up, to help you to become more of who you were created to be.” – Oprah Winfrey
“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born, and how you become most truly alive.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” – Oprah Winfrey (This is what I tell myself over and over during homework time! Lol)
Last few questions are from my 9 year- old nephew Kai:
What is your favorite yoga pose?
I don’t have just one favorite pose. My favorite yoga poses are Crow and Side Crow, Panda, and Bird of Paradise
What do you tell other kids who want to be yoga teachers?
If they want to be yoga teachers to help spread the yoga seed, I say “AWESOME!!”
And what is your go-to food?
Kitchari, which is sooo good for you and yummy, and my mom’s bean and veggie tostadas. Mmmmm…. I’m hungry now. Lol
Thank you! I will end the same way I end my classes….
Think Good Thoughts, Speak Kind Words, Feel Love-Be Love-and Give Love. Namaste
Affectionately described by many as a yoga scientist, Amanda Kriebel is an innovative Doctor of Physical Therapy and Yoga Teacher who humbly claims to be a student of life. Contact her to schedule and appointment in person or via Skype. Learn more about her and her exclusive videos: www.awarenesspt.com | Facebook | Instagram @amanda.kriebel | YouTube Channel